"the X nation"

Charles Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Tue Jan 2 19:50:08 UTC 2007

In recent years (or such is my impression) the word "nation" has come to be used in a special way--to refer to the aggregate of a school’s students, alumni, boosters, and fans.  The collective partisans of my university (the University of Georgia), for example, constitute "the Bulldog Nation"; that of my alma mater, "the Longhorn nation."

It sounded very strange, however, when a sportscaster yesterday referred to "the Nebraska nation"--as if the corn state had seceded from the union (or as if an Indian tribe was being mentioned).

Usually X in the phrase "the X nation" will be the school's mascot or the nickname of its athletic teams--"the War Eagle nation" or "the Cardinal nation"--though "the Auburn nation" or "the Stanford nation" doesn't sound wrong.  But seeming to call a state a nation DOES! (Maybe "the University of Nebraska nation" wouldn't.)


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